Image Credit: Tamsin Elliott

Beth Calverley is a poet, performer, creative guide, and founder of The Poetry Machine. Her writing celebrates the weird and wonderful things we do while trying to reach out and express ourselves to others.

Beth travels across the country to places of work, care, learning and play – from hospitals to festivals, weddings to theatres, high streets to heritage sites, schools to universities, staff rooms to conferences – performing, facilitating and co-creating poetry. 

She is the Poet in Residence at University Hospitals Bristol & Weston NHS Foundation Trust, Oxford University Hospitals NHS FT, and the Clatterbridge Cancer Centre in Liverpool . She has been a Poet in Residence for The Poetry House in Ledbury (2021-22), a Bristol Poetry Festival Resident Poet (2021), a Bristol Life Awards Arts Finalist (2020), and a Roundhouse Slam Finalist (2018). She has worked with the BBC, ITV, Sky, Oh Magazine, Ocado Life Magazine, The Prince’s Trust, The National Trust, and many more.

Beth’s debut collection, Brave Faces & Other Smiles (Verve Poetry Press, 2020), explores some of the countless and complex reasons why we smile. Benjamin Zephaniah called it “a great collection with a honest, real theme.”

Her TEDx talk,  Poetry at Work, was described as “beautiful and wise” and “it made me cry a little”.

Beth is also part of House of Figs, a music and poetry duo with Beth Roberts. Their work-in-progress show Is it just me? The Awkward Guide to Friendship debuted in November 2023.

Image Credit: Thom Bartley

Brave Faces & Other Smiles (Verve Poetry Press, 2020)

This collection takes the umbrella theme of the smile and shares it out among a multiplicity of subjects, moods and meanings. Smiles can be brave, shy, sad, or a lighthouse beam of joy. 

Some of the smiles that inspired this collection were contributed by people whom Beth has met on her adventures with The Poetry Machine.

Beth Calverley is a distinctive and necessary voice. Her subject is happiness – not the cliched version but the hard won and realistic sort with all its difficulties visible.

Tom Sastry, 2016 Laureate’s Choice poet

Beth has the innate ability to capture a feeling and make you feel safe within it. If poetry could hold your hand, this is what it would feel like.

Malaika Kegode, award-winning writer

A poet whose presence, way of reaching out to every member of her audience, and most of all her smile, create smiles all around her. Her leaps of imagination take the breath away. Her recurring imagery draws a safety-net of light around her listeners and readers.

Stuart, Verve Poetry Press

My niece still carries the poem Beth wrote for her everyday. She was going through a hard time at school and the words have given her strength to power through it all.

Beatrice, Poetry Machine guest

You listen with such welcome invitation and calm. And you write so beautifully, as though you are reading my mind and making it make sense! So eloquent to articulate that feeling on the page – what a gift. A little bit of poetry magic.

Laura, Poetry Machine guest

The response from staff been above and beyond my expectations. I was particularly impressed by your ability to work with staff who may feel very hesitant about being involved in a poetry project and feel it’s not for them. It’s a great skill to make people feel confident about expressing their views.

Ruth, Oxford Hospitals Charity

It meant everything! Reinforced my love of poetry. Gave me such pride to have unique entertainment at my wedding. Delighted!

Cheryl, Wedding party

I am 8. I love coming to Hay. Beth’s poems are beautiful. I want to be a poet.

Aoife, Poetry Machine guest

It is very special to be able to bring Beth to the Poetry House in Ledbury so that she can offer her Poetry Machine experience to locals and tourists. Everyone who participated found the experience to be delightful, moving, enriching, stimulating and special.

Chloe, Ledbury Poetry Festival

It broadened my horizons as to what people with severe aphasia can do in a group, given the right support. It was inspiring.

Barbara, Bristol After Stroke

It meant the world to me to be able to be with my friends and to talk about how much our friendships meant to us, and have that captured in a beautiful poem that we can treasure forever.

Kate, Poetry Party guest

The format was excellent, connecting our delegates to the messages of the day and to their creative selves. Beth, you are magical.

Bella, Sky

Your poetry is beautiful, inspiring, optimistic and reaches deep to bring out the best of people, and I really wanted to have your input into the project to help lift and direct it to new places.

Paul, People of the Hop Harvest

In my 20 years of working here I don’t think I’ve ever had more positive feedback on an event. You challenged the students, but in a safe, supported environment. They realised that they had a lot to give, as well as a lot to gain.

Tess, University of Leeds